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Osaka confirms cluster of 18 coronavirus cases stemming from downtown eateries

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura (Mainichi/Kazuki Yamazaki)

OSAKA -- A cluster of 18 novel coronavirus cases was confirmed mainly in the downtown area of this western Japan city's Kita Ward, the Osaka Prefectural Government announced on April 1.

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura shared his sense of fear that "the infection is spreading in areas around Kita Ward" at a press conference that day. He again asked that residents refrain from visiting eateries and other facilities that serve customers face-to-face during the nighttime.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's research team dispatched to Osaka Prefecture analyzed the movements of prefectural residents whose infection routes were unknown, and tracked down the routes for 18 people.

According to the Osaka Prefectural Government, 10 of the 18 people were customers or employees of either an entertainment pub or a nightclub in Kita Ward. An acquaintance of a customer of the nightclub also tested positive for the coronavirus after they had a meal together at a different location. A few others associated with a person who had dined in the downtown area have also tested positive for the virus. The prefectural government presumes that the cluster of infections took place around this area.

The Osaka government has not yet announced the names of the two facilities -- the nightclub has refused to publicize its name and the prefectural government is reportedly negotiating with the pub. The lack of cooperation from the facilities is hindering fact-finding investigations.

In response to the situation, Gov. Yoshimura indicated he would consider introducing a system to cover the cost of economic damage to business operators who agreed to publicize the names of their shops and cooperated with other requests.

(Japanese original by Yumi Shibamura, Osaka City News Department)

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